All posts by Mark's Las Vegas

Mark has been a Las Vegas regular for one 2 decades and has helped many people get the most out of their Las Vegas experience.

Rio Room Sale: Better Than Conference Prices

The Rio currently has a very good room sale going on. The rates do fluctuate, but right now they are better than the negotiated rates for a number of upcoming conferences. You get a room for an average nightly rate of $60 for one upcoming conference.
The Rio does not charge resort fees either, so the rate you see (plus 12% tax) is what you actually pay.

The offer code for the Rio is IRFNF. You can click on the following link to get to the page with the code already active.

(Dec. 10, 2012 update: The offer code is still good and is showing savings of over 50% off the regular rate for some dates)

(Nov. 7, 2013 update: The offer code is still good and is showing rates of $29 for many dates in November, December and January)

Resort Fees: The Good and The Bad (Archived Post)

On March 1st, 2013 Caesars Entertainment started charging a resort fee. Most resorts in Las Vegas now charge a resort fee. They are usually waived for comped rooms and can be waived for higher tiered players, but that will vary. I am leaving this post up for archival purposes.

Resort fees are becoming more and more prevalent in Las Vegas.  Caesars Entertainment even based a marketing campaign around the fact that their hotels don’t charge resort fees (kind of like Southwest’s no checked bag fees campaign).  Just like checked bag fees, you need to factor them in when budgeting for your trip.   To add insult to injury, resort fees are typically taxed at the hotel tax rate of 12%.  This means your special deal for a $49.99 per night room at New York – New York actually costs you $83.99 per night once you include the resort fee and all taxes.

If you are unsure whether your hotel charges a resort fee, ask when you make your reservation.  If you book online through the hotel’s website, there should be a little disclaimer next to the total cost of your stay mentioning the resort fee, whether that has been included in the total and what it covers.  If you book through sites like Expedia and Hotwire any resort fee should be listed in the hotel overview or trip summary pages before you complete your reservation.

While they tend to get a bad rap, resort fees are not always a bad deal.  How much you pay and what you get in return varies from hotel to hotel, though.  At the upper end (fee-wise), MGM Grand, the Mirage, Mandalay Bay, New York – New York, ARIA, the WYNN, Encore, Red Rock Resort and Green Valley Ranch all charge $25 plus tax which makes it an additional $28 per night.  At the lower end, the Gold Coast charges only $3 and the Riviera charges $11.

Resort fees almost always include Internet access, local calls, fitness center passes and boarding pass printing.  The Gold Coast does not include Internet access in their $3 resort fee, but they still include free calls, in-room coffee and fitness center access.  The Mirage includes the use of their in-room robes as part of their resort fee.  The Monte Carlo (which has a $20/night resort fee) includes 2 Keurig coffee pods and 2 bottles of water each day as part of their fee.  That sounds like such a simple addition, but it makes a big difference.  Circus Circus goes above and beyond by including 2 free Midway games, 2 Premium ride passes at their Adventure Dome and 2 free drinks as part of their $8.95 resort fee.

For comparison, if you are staying at Harrah’s and want 24 hours of Internet access and one day fitness center passes for you and your partner it will cost $11.95 for the Internet and $20 each for the fitness center access ($25 each during the weekend).  That is $51.95 for things that would have been included in most resort fees.
At the Rio, the same Internet and 2 fitness center passes combo costs $53.95.

I am not a fan of any hotel forcing additional, non-voluntary charges (which is ultimately what the resort fees are), but since I do use the services that the resort fees cover, they do tend to save me money.  There are situations where they will save you money and there are other situations where you will be paying for things you aren’t using.  If you stay somewhere simply because they don’t charge a resort fee, you might end up paying more that you would have with a resort fee.  The best way to approach the resort fee issue is simply to be an educated consumer.

Total Rewards Dining Discount

Total Rewards now gives you a discount when dining at their buffets, cafes and many other casual dining spots.  The program is currently in effect at all Caesars Entertainment buffets (like Carnival World Buffet at the Rio and Flavors, The Buffet at Harrah’s) and most of the cafes.  The program should be fully implemented by April 1, 2012.

The discounted prices are clearly marked on the menus.  As a general rule, if the casino owns the restaurant you can probably get a discount by showing your Total Rewards card.  This includes places like the All American Bar & Grille at the Rio and Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill at Harrah’s in addition to the buffets and cafes. Planet Dailies, the cafe at Planet Hollywood is not participating.

Another way to look at this is that Caesars Entertainment owned restaurants in Las Vegas are going to charge you more if you don’t join their Total Rewards players club. The Total Rewards card is free and there is no obligation to gamble in order to get the discounted price.

Rio Dining: By The Meal

(updated  September 1, 2016)

When you are on the Strip, if you want to get a bite to eat but you don’t like what is offered at your hotel or the places at your hotel are closed, you can easily walk to something else. When you are off-Strip, you don’t usually have that option. The Rio does a good job of making sure that you don’t go hungry.

Here is a list of dining options at the Rio organized by meal. Knowing what is open when can be very handy since the Rio doesn’t have the typical 24 hour coffee shop setup that some of us have come to depend upon.

Breakfast Lunch Dinner Late Night


Hash House A Go Go    (in the walkway to the convention area)

open 6:00am – 1:00pm for  breakfast Mon-Fri

open 6:00am – 3:00pm for  brunch Sat-Sun

Carnival World Buffet (by the Poker Room and Sports Book)

open 8:00am – 11:00am  for  breakfast Mon-Fri

open 8:00am – 10:00am  for  breakfast  on weekends

open 10:00am – 3:00pm for brunch on the weekend

Starbucks (by Ipanema Tower elevators & another in the walkway to the convention area)

Ipanema location open 5:00am – 11:00pm Sun – Thurs ;      open 24 hours Fri – Sat.

Convention location open 6:30am-1pm daily

Rio Java (in the Masquerade Village by the Masquerade Tower elevators)

SmashBurger   (in the Masquerade Village upper level – close to the parking garage)

open 8am-4pm  – they serve breakfast sandwiches in the morning


Carnival World Buffet

open 11:00am – 3:00pm for lunch 

All American Bar & Grille (near the front desk)

open 11:00am – 12:00am

KJ Dim Sum (across from the Carnival World buffet)

open 10:00am – 2:00am


open 8am-4pm

Sports Deli (by the Sports Book, near the front desk)

open 11:00am – 11:00pm Sun – Thurs; open 11:00am – 1:00am Fri – Sat.

Starbucks and Rio Java are options, too if you just need a snack


VooDoo Steak and Rooftop Nightclub   aka VooDoo Lounge (on the top 2 floors of the Masquerade Tower – elevator located on the upper level of the Masquerade Village)

open 5:00pm – 11:00pm

Nightclub is open 9:00pm – 3:00 am

Guy Fieri’s El Burro Borracho

open 5:00pm – 10:00pm

KJ Dim Sum

open 10:00am – 2:00am

All American Bar & Grille

open 11:00am – 12:00am

Sports Deli

open 11:00am – 11:00pm Sun – Thurs;

open 11:00am – 1:00am Fri – Sat.

Carnival World Buffet

open 3:00pm – 10:00 pm for dinner

Village Seafood Buffet (CLOSED – An expanded seafood section has been added to the Carnival World Buffet for an extra $15)

Late Night Eats

KJ Dim Sum open until 2am.

All-American Bar and Grille open until midnight 

Starbucks by the Ipanema Tower elevators open 24 hours on Friday & Saturday.


Vegas Stripped: New Travel Channel Show Tonight

Want to get a look at what goes on behind the scenes at a Las Vegas casino? Now you can!
Vegas Stripped takes you behind the scenes at South Point Casino, which is a few miles south of the Strip.
The show premieres tonight at 10pm on the Travel Channel.
For more information, check out the Las Vegas Sun article about the show.